Library Privileges

I’m a library fanatic. I always have been.

My earliest memory of library fun was in the fourth grade was when my teacher, Mr. Shapiro, would reward those of us who had finished classwork early. We got hall passes and went to the school library. Neat-o. When I switched to Catholic school for grade 6, the library was a little more cramped, but still great. And it had a science fiction section. When I was on the high school chess team, we often played in libraries when we were on the road. I also biked to the nearest public library where I exhausted the books in sections 520-29, especially 523, as well as 629, 794-96, the 810’s, and YA science fiction.

Anyway, the university library at ISU offers townies a library card (borrowing privileges!) for $20 a year, which I consider a bargain. It’s about a ten-minute walk from the student center, and I can indulge in all sorts of fun. Just the other night, I found a few thousand scores for operas, symphonies, and other classical works. There was a book of complete lute music of John Dowland–which I didn’t get this time. Lute tablature and contemporary 2-staff notation, and I’m thinking it will be fun to work on some of these for guitar.

I’ve been reading through lots of books on planetary science and geology this semester. I’m thinking that some rainy day, I should head over to the library at dawn, and just spend the entire day browsing through the stacks. All of them.

As an aside, let me recount a disappointing library story. After my newly minted theology degree (earned in part by work study in–you guessed it: the library) helped me land my first parish ministry position, I went over to Mundelein seminary to check out their library. After about an hour of browsing I asked about borrowing privileges. Silly me. I was asked if I was a priest? No. Seminarian? No. Sorry, but the answer’s no. I explained something of my situation, but the answer stood as given.

This would be one example of why the so-called vocations crisis is mostly hooey. One might think that a single guy in his twenties, working for the church, with an advanced degree in theology … might be vocation material.  Wouldn’t you think?

This disappointing episode has been long salved by adventures in countless other libraries, like the one in the little town of Marengo, Illinois on the way to diocesan meetings in Rockford … or the main branch of the Johnson County library in Kansas … or my new favorite library on the campus of Iowa State University.

Any good library stories out there?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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6 Responses to Library Privileges

  1. Gavin says:

    Every time I go wandering into my university library’s music section I find something worthwhile!

  2. Michael says:

    I just want that secret door in my/i> library!

  3. Michael says:


  4. Gavin says:

    Put ze candle BECK!!

  5. dymphna says:

    Well speaking as a librarian I don’t see what’s wrong about a private libray choosing who they extend lending privileges to.

  6. Liam says:

    The Boston Athenaeum is a wonderful private library. Historically, people have needed referrals from members to join (and I am talking only about membership, not proprietorship, which is a completely different league). They always check the referrals and ask the most important question, to the following effect: Will he/she treat our books with respect and care?

    I’ve always loved that. It’s nice when one encounters an organization that asks the right question. Questions are often more important than answers, after all.

    (Which gets me thinking about continuing membership on my current austerity budget, sigh…)

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